Should

Hi
There’s been a heck of a lot to process lately. Almost nothing seems untouched. It’s like trying to stay in one place but hanging from a pendulum. I can’t begin to cover everything whirling around in my life lately, so I’ll try for as much “now” as I can.

Yesterday, I woke up happy despite my tiredness; fed Clove, took my meds, and returned to the cozy comfort of my bed. After some time had passed, and I had both gone to and returned from sleep, there was no pleasant escape feeling. Yes, no pressure to check items off of the never ending to-do list, but with the absence of pressure, I felt suspended, as if in a vacuum, without solid form, empty, blank.

This morning, I woke up and tarried in bed some sleepy moments, before getting ready and heading out the door. Coffee put a bit more pep in my step, and singing out in a room full of people doing the same, kept my energy up and the joy flowing.

It wasn’t until after I had gotten home, that the pendulum swung back again. I don’t know if it was watching stories on social media overflowing with pain and anger, or the fact that the weekend is quickly approaching it’s end.
The best weather we’ve had all week has graced us today. “Should”s fill my head. I should be enjoying the weather properly, actively, instead of convincing myself to leave the bed I had returned to, and sitting on the slab of cement outside my door. I should be utterly happy, tickled pink, over my many blessings.

Find the pleasant things.
The wind is more than a slight breeze. It sighs and whispers through the trees, wood creaking beneath birdsong. The ebb and flow of ocean waves sound to rest within their boughs. I wonder what all of the birds are saying. They have no moral dilemma, no sense of uncertain future. A Mourning Dove calls, and I am transported into a childhood memory.

There are no details, despite the picture not blurring. It wasn’t a complete memory. Although real and true, it is a mixture of memory, old photographs, and possibly dreams. Isn’t nostalgia interesting? Looking back, I long for those days. Chalk on the driveway, making homes under trees, being unafraid to let loose a shout or scream; they sit on the surface. Oil and water, or a soup you skim the fat from; nostalgia is like that.

Nearby, a train’s deep whistle echoes and just like that, I’m pulled into the present. More “should”s are waiting, both question and command. Sometimes, I wish I was simple, but that smells strongly of the roses they make all those glasses from.

That is where I leave you for now, friends and strangers. Answers have not yet turned into action or soaked into my grey matter. Health and peace to you these days, and thank you for sticking around through the above partial brain dump.

Friday Morn

I hit almost every red light on my drive to work but it just gave me more time to sing along with the radio. Walking through the parking ramp, inhaling and relishing the cool morning air, underlying dampness foretells a hot day. The florescent lamps, ever present, are drowned out by birdsong and I take another sip of coffee before looping the other half of my mask around an ear. There are a few people in the building, yet quiet is predominant. A “good morning” to the maintenance man, journey through the hallway of broken chairs and the pat pat pat of my steps on the concrete stairs brings me back to work.
Happy Friday.

Growing Pains

The sun is out today after a couple weeks of it hiding, taking my energy with it. I’m forcing myself to sit outside, take in the fresh air, and eat something besides pancakes. Clove is here with me and seems to have forgotten what being outside is like, too distracted to notice I’m eating carrots.

The sounds are a blend of what I’ve become used to in the present, and a pang of nostalgia.: Construction, cars driving by, a dog barking from a neighbor’s yard. Someone appears in our shared back-bit of nature with a plastic bag, and the sweet call of a morning dove quiets. I’m annoyed until I see they are picking up trash. I feel both shame for my reaction and gratitude that people still exceed expectation in simple goodness.

Clove is munching on her arugula and I, my carrots. A slight breeze waves the top of the container and disperses the sparse amount of loose fluff on her. This is good for both of us.

Maybe Spring inside of us is just as messy as Spring outdoors. With all of it’s back and forth, between freezing and melting, sunshine and gloom, our hearts go through it too. When will my chest pains push flowers from my bones, will this digging and searching inside yield the treasure I buried to hide through winter? Things are stirring in my soil, unseen. I guess I’ll keep seeking sunshine for my Spring.

Last Month

Castlecore – Writing Snippet 1

The cool stone of the castle wall remains solid against my back as the trees bend this way and that, shushing loudly. Clutching my cloak closer about me, I take a deep breath and continue across the rampart, pushed by the whipping wind. It was time for one of us to pay attention to the pleas of the townspeople and no silver spoon was going to blind me to the truth. Thankfully it was dark tonight, the moon hidden by grey clouds. I struggled against the heavy wooden door, finally slipping inside and locking it behind me.

If they knew what I was doing, what a load of trouble I would be in. I descended the spiraling stairs quietly. Of course, I already had not garnered much favor, rejecting the proposal that had meant to bind our kingdom to another. No, I would not be traded as an object, treasurers bartering using my being as leverage. There was more to being a daughter of the late king than that and I was bound and determined to set things right no matter what it would take.

“Going somewhere Princess?” I paused, before straightening, facing one of the knights.
“I’m on my way to the banquet of course.”
“This is certainly an interesting route to take there.” he replied, raising a brow and eying my cloak. “Might I escort you, your majesty?”
I sighed lightly. “Fine, you caught me. I was going to the kitchen beforehand to get some extra of the good stuff before I have to act all proper and pick at my food.”
His chuckle told me that he had fallen for the half-truth. “I see” he bowed slightly before moving away. “Don’t take too long or too much. The court are deprived of one of their most precious jewels by your delay.”
I nodded, returning a small smile before continuing to the castle kitchens, careful to avoid detection by anyone else.

From Gratitude to Riches

Hello,

I’ve come home from another day at work feeling like time is moving both all too fast and not at all. The beginnings of a box of Rice-a-Roni sizzle softly on the stove, requiring me to leave the warmth of the kotatsu and stir it before it browns too much. It smells lovely and I half imagine myself to be cooking up something from scratch in a lonely forest cottage. My little mushroom mug, previously my grandma’s, fits the narrative. I’ve been sorting through my stash of tea and trying to drink it more but this time, it’s a matcha and cardemom latte. The pan that dinner is cooking in, is also a hand-me-down and I’ve ended up covering it with a baking sheet since it has no lid; how aesthetic.

There is much I want to dream into my fantastical (quite likely impossible) future but the current moment holds beauty. It’s something that I’m working on remembering. Sure, escaping into a daydream is fun, but it leaves me feeling somewhat trapped when I come back. So, I’ve settled myself in, to process the unpleasant reality that is my now and resolved to romanticize it.

It’s been bad winter weather the past two days. Snow and ice cover the roads and let’s just say the temperatures aren’t very positive. I was carefully parking yesterday when my vehicle decided to slide into the dms of the one next to it….and leave a nice scratch. That is a claim I now have to handle on top of the other matters pressing at my tired grey matter. Bills, budgeting, scheduling, pursuing the next steps for my health, and simply maintaining my space and self seem to be more than I can manage but, one task at a time. Some progress is better than no progress.

Seeking out the parts of my imperfect life that are daydream-worthy and keeping them in the setting of the present, helps me practice gratitude. I have so so much to be thankful for. Might be dealing with physical pain, burnout, and exhaustion but I have a warm home, a comfortable bed to sleep in, and a job to provide money for which to pay my medical bills. I may have yet another insurance thing to process, but the people involved have all been kind, there was minimal damage, and no one was hurt. There is probably no secluded cottage in my future, but I have my own cozy space with a kitchen to cook in. Thinking of all the things I do have, how ungrateful my mindset is most days.

It’s been said, “the present is a gift.” Trusting that right now, is good timing for what currently is, is a process. Even struggling through difficulties, I am going to practice noticing that I’m rich; rich with opportunity, rich with relationships. I am rich with a multitude of what I have in my life, and when I frame things that way, it doesn’t take much to romanticize it.

Whatever struggles or hard times, difficulties or frustrations, pain or loss of hope you may have, can you find something you are rich in? Maybe it’s too much of a stretch to use that word but what is something you are grateful for? What is something that you could pluck out of your present and place into a daydream?

Be well, friends and strangers. Thank you for joining me again.

Perfection

It is beautifully quiet, for a few precious moments. The sunlight from our frozen outdoors, bounces off of my ring onto the pillow next to me in small dancing dots. Clove is free to wander the apartment but she has returned to her cage for a mid-day hay snack and possible nap.

At the beginning of this year, a few weeks ago, I chose what goals I was going to focus on this year. Since I could not pursue them all at once, I chose to save for a house and to focus on and pursue my health all out. The result of this, has been decreased eating out with friends, fast food stops, and more appointments than time to take a breath.
For my chronic pain and fatigue, I’ve gotten two diagnoses. Hearing a medical professional say that it’s not all in my head and no, I’m not being dramatic or overly sensitive is so reassuring. Admittedly, though I am happy to have some answers, there are no cures, only treatment for symptoms to try. I now go to physical/occupational therapy twice a week before or after work, and am still working with my primary on what medication is the best for me. The other part of my health is mental health. I finally am pursuing full answers to my questions so that hopefully, I can be better equipped to take care off my brain.
I read somewhere that someone was trying to change the term to brain-health because it decreases the stigma around mental health. Mental health seems to have worth and morality assigned to it, while physical health does not. Did you know that anxiety can literally damage your brain? Brain health.

Mental health doesn’t just cover people who struggle with your labeled conditions though. Stress and our perception of ourselves affects mental health. One of the providers that I’ve seen looked at me and told me that I have amazing memory and talent. I must have looked properly shocked. “Do you not think so?”
Do I not think so… What do I think about myself on a regular basis?
“You’re letting perfectionism steal your joy.”
Wow. In my pursuit of being the best me that I can, I was self-sabotaging. I speak to myself in a way that I never would speak to a friend, often in the name of being who I want to be. Nothing I ever do is good enough for me.

I had a friend over last night and ended up reading her some of my old writings. She is absolutely convinced that I’m an amazing writer and that I need to be published. I downplayed it, made excuses, and eventually was told “I’m going to shake you every time I see you if you don’t give this a chance.” She believes in me far more than I do. It’s warming to have a friend stand up for you, even if it’s against yourself.

I’m working on it, friends and strangers.
What is your idea of perfection?

Determined to feel alive

If I am going to keep hanging in the balance of waiting for my perfect future and being open to growth and change, I might as well be in a good relationship with myself.

Essentially, I have a four year time frame to make some big changes. Four years left in current wonderful apartment, four years to save, to decide, to make moves. I want to buy a house. Where that house will be is not concrete. Do I want to stay in my home state, without family? Is there enough here to keep me, or will I end up settling somewhere else, with or without the support system of my parents close by. I’m fortunate to have a close relationship with them. There is no way of knowing if I will meet someone and form a romantic relationship before then either, and that would be another factor, of course.

I was taken on a wonderful date today. It felt good to dress up, grab a small, fall-special coffee after being cooked a delicious breakfast of buckwheat pancakes from scratch with eggs and bacon and then head to my favorite dirt trail.
The autumn colors were stunning and I didn’t rush my pace, taking in the uninterrupted beauty around me. There was some kind of company event using the park, with signs on the trail so the path less taken was…taken. It led the way, wandering through a field of waving grass and then skirted a group of birches. We’ve had a few storms this past month or so and fallen trees or sawed off roots were not a surprise to see. A large stump, the partially charred trunk lying close by, arrested my attention without a second glance. I almost put an end to the child-like glee that sprung up inside me, but why should I have? There was no one there to worry about boring or embarrassing. Doing my best not to disturb too much on my way through the dry, taller grasses, I arrived at my destination properly pleased with myself. The simple happiness that accompanied clambering up on that big stump was so soothing. It was large enough for me to lay on and stare up into the perfectly blue sky. No anxious thoughts came to plague me. I was able to just be. “This would be a perfect place for a date.” I thought, but the friends I had reached out to were already busy so I was alone. It was about then, that I realized I could be my own sort of significant other until the person meant for me appears. I want someone who values me and makes me feel safe but I don’t do that for myself much of the time. With that in mind, could I be intentional about being in a committed relationship with myself? It sounds strange, but the idea of value and self-love is at the bottom of it.

After appreciating the situation for a bit and finishing the walking circuit, I finally visited my favorite tea shop. It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to get a personal pot of fragrant tea, a slice of tiramisu, and settle myself in one of the Japanese-style seating areas with tatami mats and low tables. Sure, it still crossed my mind that it would be nice to share this with someone, but it’s also a near-perfect place to write. A violin version of Merry-Go-Round of Life floats quietly through the space, mingling with quiet discussion and clinking of tea dishes. The small chalkboard sign at the counter states “no wi-fi on weekends” and electrical outlets by my seat are covered up. All the better. There are few places to create this atmosphere. Precious tea dribbles onto my journal page as I burn my mouth on the complimentary refill. I’m glad it is thick paper.
Usual melancholy is waiting under the surface of this rest. Hauntingly nostalgic piano music makes its ripples, prodding at my thoughts of both future and past again. I want more days like this, where I am determined to feel alive.

I’m going to stop apologizing for the delays or absences in my posting and instead focus on what I do bring to this place. Life is full of confusing ups and downs. All I can do is my best.

Thank you for being here strangers and friends.

Beautiful and Tumultuous

The wind is making the trees dance in the setting sun. Spinning seeds find their way to me from an empty sky It is not quiet, yet it is peaceful. When this type of breeze makes my hair caress my arms and strands cross my face, I feel as if I must be important, strong. There is no booming, no cracking or roaring. Instead the power is quiet, soft and still beautiful.

I wonder if the wind has ever known where it’s going. As far as I can tell, it just goes. I want to be like the wind; beautiful in my collected chaos, freely fulfilling my purpose, not worried about where I’m headed.

Toast

The rain patters quietly outside of her open window, punctuated by a car alarm honking forlornly in the distance. Placing her hands on either side of her mug, the warmth seeps into her fingers and she breathes in, herbal cadence blending with fresh rain smell. It had been a long day, discouraging but she couldn’t let up just yet. She wrinkled her nose slightly, noting that the trash was not a list item that she could put off any longer. A blank spot on the opposing wall gained her steady gaze as she pondered the complex weight on her mind. How is it that no matter how much was ever accomplished in either her personal or professional life, it felt like no progress was made?

There was no answer of course. Not this time at least, so she rose from her spot on the floor to stare into the refrigerator. No food looked appealing, either requiring effort and time or unsettling her fickle appetite. She sighed. When did eating become just another item on her list of things to do? The neighbor’s bass thrummed through the wall and she finally grabbed a loaf of bread, throwing a couple slices in the toaster. She jumped when they popped up, what felt only a few seconds later. Butter. Absentmindedly, the previously utilized fork on the counter was used to spread the slices before she once again sank to the floor.

She couldn’t have turned into a robot entirely. Robots don’t care about food. The real question was, what else did she actually, truly, care about? Once again, no answers presented themselves so she continued to study the blank space on the wall and munch on the half-done toast.

Fear and Fantasy

There’s a storm brewing. I can feel it in the air as I right my toppled zucchini plant. It’s warm, windy, and the wildness creeps into my bones. I want to be wild and free like the flying leaves; soak up the adrenaline and be at fiery peace.

Tomorrow, my favorite weekend escape opens. I can be another version of me in a different world. Going to Renaissance Festival has always given me that feeling, the one I can’t quite put into words.

My imagination is renewed and a match held to the wick of my creative spirit. Maybe it’s that I don’t have to be what most people want me to be. Keeping to myself offends no one and I can slip between groups of people like a shadow, all the while taking in such delicious details.

I’m a little afraid of my excitement. A lot has changed since I was last able to attend, and I’m afraid it won’t infect me with that restful, childlike inspiration.

Do you ever get scared by being excited for something, just hoping it is as wonderful as you remember it?

Have a lovely weekend strangers and friends. Here’s hoping you get to revisit pleasant dreams and fall asleep to the sound of a storm.